I’ve been reading Gustavo Gutierez’s “A Theology of Liberation” for a while now, in part because it’s extremely dense. Imagine me writing that first sentence with 5 more really awesome ideas in the same sentence and then trying to digest some super theological writing with big words that require a dictionary. Gutierez, one of the foremost liberation theologians, brings up a lot of really great ideas about rights and responsibilities. He has, for a government and societal critic, been extremely hopeful throughout his entire book. This is the point of one of the chapters I am working on now–why we must hope.
And yes, we MUST hope. That is, we have a choice, but if we want to respond to the love God offers us, we must. God has given us all some hope. God expects us to use this hope, to grow it, to nurture it, and to offer it to others.
Why? Because hope is how we acknowledge the fact that we’re full of love. It’s how we show we believe that LOVE is far more powerful than hate, doubt, evil, or any other thing that hangs on our hearts. And you’re damn right it’s hard! But love is way more totally rad and awesome!
A lot of you are headed out for Fall Break Service Trips next week. All of you have your service sites. Many of you will see things that are hard to see, because the love in us gives us this compassion that says “Don’t you realize this is a problem! And you can help!” Many of you will see homeless men begging; others will see run-down homes; others might meet folks who have a drug problem; some of you will see what happens when the US tries to make people illegal; some of you might run into yourselves and the harsh realization of your past, what’s in your heart, or what God wants for you. I’ve run pretty hard into all of these things. I’ve felt the twang of my heart and guilt for not giving that homeless man a few dollars. I’ve felt bad for judging the same man and assuming he’d by drugs. But that’s not my place to judge.
My place is to hope and to change–myself and the world. God holds us accountable for the hope he placed within us. If we don’t use Hope, we say no to Love. It’s hard to hope the world can change, that it can get better. We might not see it in our lifetimes. There’s some pretty radical things I’d love to see happen, but I don’t know if they will. But if I hope, if I try, if I do my damnedest to work for it, then I know I’ve done the prophetic work that God has asked of me.
It’s hard to not see the fruits of our labors. That’s part of the reason I love weight lifting. I can see when I’ve taken 215 pounds from the floor and can see in the mirror that I’m standing there with it above my head. I can’t see that I’ve been present to a homeless man at lunch and that he might have left with a bit better day; I can’t see that I’ve left with a bit more understanding of his situation. But what if we share our hope with each other? What if we share with each other dreams, stories and what we know is good? Then there will be a transformation, gratitude and love in not just our hearts, but possibly others as well. That’s pretty rad.
I won’t hold it against you if you have doubts and find it hard to have hope. I don’t think God will either for that matter. I lose hope a lot; but God seems to give me a bit more to get the first back batch when I ask for it. Usually, it comes from other people offering me theirs. So no matter what you see, experience and come to know on your Service Trips, daily service, or otherwise, know that you are already full of hope. You need to harvest that hope. You need to share that hope. You must share that hope. Demonstrate that Love is more powerful than evil. For the sake of the world, I beg of you, to hope.
I like concluding with music, and Ben Harper’s “Better Way” seemed a good way.